Tuesday, January 31, 2012

[HOT LIST] Michigan chocolatiers

Patricia's Chocolates.

Is it any coincidence that the Superbowl and Valentine's Day happen in the same month? Fellas, as you stuff those last few pork products into your face while discussing the commercials the game at the office on Monday, you'd better be thinking about what to do for that special lady-friend of yours because as SOON as that last pigskin hits the astro turf, you're on her time. Now, Godiva is great and all (I mean, if you just want to phone it in), but this Valentine's Day show her you put at least a little thought into it. Or at least took the time to read a blog that guided you through exactly how to put some thought into it so you didn't have to. Et voila! If you want to say it with chocolate, say it with one of these Michigan chocolatiers.

#1 Patricia's Chocolate (Spring Lake)
Patricia Christopher learned how to make fine artisan ganache and caramel chocolates at the French Pastry School and Callebaut Institute in Chicago. She calls her chocolates "art that melts," but there is no way you can fully grasp what that means until you actually see it. Each exquisite hand-finished chocolate palet is made with the finest domestic and imported French couverture cocoas, fresh butter and cream in traditional and unusual flavors from exotic spices and locally-sourced ingredients such as raw Michigan honey, Traverse City maple syrup, and Black Star Farms apple brandy. She is also one of only a few chocolatiers in the world entrusted with Fortunate No. 4, an extremely rare and complex cacao previously thought to be extinct. (Order online.)

#2 Grocer's Daughter Chocolate (Empire)
Mimi Wheeler uses only sustainably-grown cacao beans from South America to make her all-natural handmade chocolates. She also uses fruits, edible flowers and herbs from her own home gardens and other organic, naturally-grown ingredients from the shores of Lake Michigan. Her commitment to sustainable practices is clear right down to the eco-friendly packaging. She makes a wide variety of chocolate products, the most popular being the luscious bars packed full of huge whole nuts and dried fruits. (Available in specialty markets or order online.)

#3 Mindo Chocolate Makers
Mindo Chocolate Makers are artisan bean-to-bar chocolate makers. In addition to sourcing all of their cacao beans from Mindo, Ecuador which they then roast, winnow and grind into real chocolate, Mindo also offers bean-to-bar chocolate-making classes and more refined classes (focusing on different items like ganache truffles, caramels and fudge). For a real treat, try their hot chocolate sticks. (Available in specialty markets or order online.)

Lindsay Truffler. Photo by Nicole Rupersburg.
#4 Pete's Chocolate Company (Detroit)
What can I say about Pete and his chocolates that I haven't already said? Get them at Rust Belt Market or order online.

#5 Lindsay Truffler (Bay City)
Lindsay Truffler is an artisan chocolate boutique specializing in traditional glossy molded truffles--basically a made-in-Michigan answer to Godiva. These visually-stunning chocolates come in unique flavors like Tellicherry Pepper and Toasted Sesame Caramel and are available to order online.

Bubbling under Just Good Chocolate (Leelanau Peninsula), Gayle's Chocolates (Royal Oak), Kilwin's Chocolates (Birmingham), Champagne Chocolates (Mt. Clemens), Drizzled Cafe (Warren), Sugar Kisses Bakery (Berkley)